Film review: Blood starring Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham


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The Independent Culture

Something nags away in the background to what could have been an intriguing drama of crime and punishment. Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham play brothers and police detectives trying to live up to their legendary cop father (Brian Cox), now in the early stages of dementia.

When a schoolgirl is found murdered, the brothers are so bent on nailing the culprit that their judgement goes violently awry – and they become part of the crime they're investigating. Director Nick Murphy goes for atmospheric location work, only without specifying where the location is.

A few minutes' study will tell you – that seductively grimy light could only be Liverpool and the neighbouring Wirral – but the film inexplicably refuses any local colour or landmarks. The accents are vaguely southern, while the bleak estuaries of the Wirral are referred to only as "the islands".

It gives the film a strangely deracinated feel, and also undermines the characters – the deep-lying motivations of family loyalty have evidently crippled Bettany and Graham, but if we can't believe where they're from, why should we care who they are?

There's interest in the suspicions of another cop played by Mark Strong, whose loner status is meant to contrast with the brothers' tough togetherness, but there's not enough room for the drama to breathe.

A TV series might have better drawn out the crosscurrents of rage and remorse at work, and extra thought fixed the distracting rootlessness of the whole.